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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

10 More Must-See Studios Before You Die

Quite a number of readers liked my "10 Must-See Studios Before You Die" post, of which I had to leave a good many great studios off the list. It's true that a list of 10 is way too short, so here are 10 more studios that every musician, artist, engineer and producer might want to put on that bucket list.

Woodshed Recording image
The Woodshed
The Woodshed - Malibu, CA
The Woodshed is a private studio built by my buddy composer Richard Gibbs for his private use, but later opened up to the elite artists of the world like U2, Sting, Barbra Streisand, Lenny Kravits and many more. It's located overlooking Zuma Beach in Malibu, but it's probably the most intelligently designed recording facility that I've ever seen. The room is large enough for a 30 piece string orchestra, but can be split in halves or thirds with custom built moveable walls (a wonder in themselves) that provide the same isolation as regular built walls. The console bay/listening area can also be moved to multiple places around the room. And both the studio and setting are drop-dead gorgeous.

Motown Hitsville - Detroit
There's nothing like going to see where so many of the great hits that made up the soundtracks of our lives were made in the 60s and 70s. Now a museum, the home of the former Motown records will shock you with how small it is, and how many people managed to sound so good at the same time.

The Elvis Cabinet at RCA Studio B image
The Elvis Cabinet at RCA Studio B
RCA Studio B - Nashville
Now also a museum, there's nothing better than seeing the old gear, instruments, setup and studio where an amazing number of country classics were born in the 50s through the 70s. I especially liked the cabinet that Elvis kicked and broke. The studio said they wouldn't fix it until he paid for it. It's still broken.

Fame Sound - Muscle Shoals, Alabama
So much great music came out of this studio, from Wilson Picket to Aretha Franklin to even "Brown Sugar" by the The Rolling Stones. Of course, the great rhythm Muscle Shoals rhythm section had a lot to do with it.

Oceanway Nashville image
Ocean Way Nashville
Ocean Way Nashville
Formerly a church, few large studios can compare with Ocean Way Nashville. It's a big complex, but the main large room is one of a kind. Now owned by Belmont College but still available for hire.

Ardent Studios - Memphis
Sam & Dave, Booker T and the MGs, ZZ Top, Freddie King and about a thousand other major and influential artists have called Ardent their home over time. The studio continues to book sessions, with two of the three studios still in their original form.

Sun Studios - Memphis
The home of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis, and arguably the true birthplace of rock n' roll. Sun is now a museum and available for tours, so all you have to do is get yourself to Memphis. I once met owner Sam Phillips and he was so gracious it was unbelievable. No wonder he was such a success.

Real World Studios - Box, Wiltshire, England
Peter Gabriel's UK laboratory is much admired around the world (like its owner). This studio might have set the standard for the new wave of open, natural sunlight studios that have taken over from the closed rooms we were used to for so long.

Criteria Studios image
Criteria Studios (Hit Factory)
Criteria (Hit Factory) - Miami
In the 70s, Criteria was the place to be for making hits. Home to The Bee Gees, great records were made there by Eric Clapton, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers, The Eagles, Bob Marley and hundreds more. It's still open for business, but now owned by The Hit Factory.

Air Studios image
Air Studios
Air Studios - Hampstead, England
Producer George Martin's studio after he went independent from EMI, this facility is still a major force in the UK, with a huge live room in Lyndhurst Hall as well as a number of smaller studios.

Once again, I'm sure I've left many worthy facilities out, but if you get to see the ones listed above (as well as the first 10 from the previous article), you'll find at least a little slice of studio nirvana.

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1 comment:

Don D said...

Although it's not a traditional recording studio, I'd consider adding NBC's Studio 8H to the list. As the home to Saturday Night Live since it's first broadcast in 1975, this would have to qualify as a "sacred space" in the history of modern music.
In fact, before SNL, Studio 8H was the home of Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra which broadcast a live radio concert very Sunday night.


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